I’m really pleased with my Amazon Echo Plus. I haven’t yet used the hub built into the device, but I got that for future accessories. Today I logged into my UK Apple account on the App Store and I updated the Alexa application. With this update to the application I was able to set up some routines. I can now say “Night Night” and the routine will turn everything off in the house. I set it to turn off all the lights and the television as well. I’ll set up another routine so I can shout out “I’m home” when I get back in the house and the Amazon Echo will turn on a few things for me.
Calls through the app and through the Amazon Echo
I also have a new icon to press at the bottom of the screen in the application. This is one for doing messaging and calls. It also does a thing called Drop-In. It has connected up to my contacts list and it now gives me a list of people in my contact list who have an Amazon Echo. If I allow it on a person by person basis, these people can make calls to me through the device. We can also send audio or video messages to each other, depending upon the hardware available. Obviously to be able to make the video calls you need to have an Amazon Echo Show. I’m not planning to get one of those at the moment. They look a bit ugly and I’d rather wait for the Amazon Echo Spot to be available on this side of the pond. It is possible to make video calls with the Echo Spot.
My mum has an Amazon Echo Dot, I bought it for her as a present. She likes to talk to it and ask questions as well as using it for turning on the television. Like most old ladies living on their own, the television is on all day long. So she only needs to command Alexa to turn on the television in the morning and she’s done for the day. I suppose she uses it to turn it off as well before going to bed.
So it’s only natural to use my mother as a guinea pig for the messaging and calling through Amazon Echo. It took us a while to get things working absolutely correctly. First of all we sent messages through the application on our iPhones. This worked out okay and my mum worked out before I did that it was possible to ask Alexa to play any messages that had come through. I think my mum was just pressing all the buttons in the application and made a call to me to my Amazon Echo Plus. The only problem was I didn’t know how to answer the call. I had to look in the help to find out I needed to use either the word “answer” or “ignore” to deal with the call coming in. In fact, I think it’s necessary to say “Alexa answer” to accept the call.
So between us we got the system working and we can now keep in contact using our Amazon Echo devices. So this will be in addition to using the Messages app which is our usual mode of contact. The system also transcribes the audio but doesn’t do a great job of turning the speech to text.
Using the Amazon Echo to start the day
I have my iPad on the nightstand next to my bed and in the morning I like to say “Hey Siri” and ask about the weather and if I have any new messages. I’ll also ask if I have any appointments for the day. The only thing is that Siri can be quite annoying and not answer me. I don’t know if it’s because my voice is a little bit gravelly first thing in morning or if I don’t say it loud enough. The good thing about using Siri is that I get the weather based on my location in Catalonia. If I ask Alexa to give me weather information she would only give me information based upon the address I’ve given it in the UK. It’ll be nice when the system becomes available in Spain. I only wonder if I’ll have to start speaking to her in Spanish in order to get the information I’m looking for. I’ll be able to do most of morning the things I want to do using the Echo Dot and I’ll just open the window to find out what the weather is looking like for the day. Using the voice computing first thing in the morning is just the job because my eyes are not quite ready for looking at a screen. It’s nice to be able to do all this with my eyes still closed.